“I’m not sure, Eva, if you are satisfied with the solution… Are you?” I had just undergone an hour of group processing during my first NVC workshop. Some of the participants in the course had been involved in a conflict. With the help of the workshop leader, those involved had finally landed in an agreement. It looked like everything was settled when one of the participants asked the question above.
My inner being twisted. “Oh no…! Now it starts again! God, how miserable…! ” And quite rightly, it all took a new turn. My whole interior was in revolt. Judgments went through my head. I was in agony. I just wanted to continue with the course! At this moment, I really did not experience peace.
The funny thing is that a couple of months later, at the second workshop, almost exactly the same situation was repeated. But this time I did not suffer. This time I followed the process curiously. Now I understood that what I witnessed was NVC in practice. This time I rather enjoyed the process and absorbed the skills that the course leader showed while handling the situation.
The difference between trigger and cause
This story is a clear personal example that I don’t feel emotions because of what others do. The actions of others are rather a trigger for my feelings. What I feel depends on how I interpret their actions. In the first example, I felt frustrated and impatient. I guess I longed for peace, efficiency and learning. In the second example, I experienced curiosity. This time, I think the main need was learning, the same as one of the needs in the first example. I also experienced peace, something I really didn’t in the first one.
Judgments as a sign of disconnection
I notice that for me the experience of peace arises when there are no judgments. I have a hard time imagining the presence of judgments – at least judgments linked to unmet needs – at the same time as the presence of peace. When judgments pop up in my mind, I’m not in contact with my needs, and thus not in contact with the need for peace.
Another thing that stands in the way of peace is stress. I can experience stress caused by external factors beyond my immediate control or when I have initiated activities myself. When I’m more in control of stressful events, I more often experience something I might interpret as positive stress. Regardless of the source of stress, I think it is difficult to simultaneously experience peace. However, many other needs can be met. For example the need for learning or challenge.
The need of peace is temporary
Peace is one of the needs I can’t constantly experience if I want a dynamic and challenging life. Personally, I think it is impossible to experience constant peace even if I would set it as my goal. In my life, I will inevitably encounter situations where I experience frustration, stress and other emotions linked to unmet needs.
Make sure to refill the need for peace
Cultivating my ability to experience inner peace could help me. If I make sure to refill my storage of peace, I don’t have to constantly seek it outside of myself. If I can only experience peace in relation to my external world, perhaps I will avoid situations where conflict and disagreement arise. I will probably then choose peace at the expense of other important needs such as autonomy, integrity or honesty.
I can create practices and habits where I get the need for peace met in my everyday life. If I have strategies where I continuously have my need for peace met, I don’t have to meet it at the expense of other needs. In stressful and challenging situations, I can then temporarily put the need for peace aside. Because I know I get peace fulfilled at regular intervals, I can stand up for myself or others, even if it means I don’t experience peace in the present moment.
Peace and war
I would also like to mention that it’s difficult to write about the need for peace without touching the subject of the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, in this article, I connect the need for peace more to the experience of an inner state of harmony and stillness rather than a state opposite to war. I have mostly described peace as an inner experience and a personal choice. At the same time there are of course external circumstances that facilitate or complicate our choosing of an internal experience. War is obviously not something that supports everyone involved to have their needs met, and certainly not the need for peace.
When do you experience peace? Do you connect peace to an external or internal experience?
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Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)
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